I have been feverishly slaving away over the garden. My hands have that roughness that comes from working the soil without gloves. I know I should use gloves but – well… I always end up taking them off to do something – like scratch my nose and they never go back on again. My back is a little achey from a lot of digging, but I’m not complaining – it is the ache of honest work and in a few short months I will be eating the fruits of all that labour.
So I have eight beds left. I only count the ones to be done as – to be perfectly honest, it isn’t good to know just how many beds there actually are for several reasons:
- Hubby the Un-Gardener moans when I come in from a hard day in the garden saying I’ve taken too much on.
- It makes it easier to make one more bed if you don’t know exactly how many there are.
- And eight left seems like a manageable number doesn’t it? That is roughly a bed a day, with a few days off over the next 11 days until the big day – the date deemed safe for planting out tender plants without the risk of frost.
The strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and currants are starting to fruit. The globe artichoke and rhubarb is well on the way and I must start doing things with them. The spuds, yams and Jerusalem artichokes are up. The onions and garlic are doing well – well except for the rust on the garlic. Grrr. The bumble bees have done their job and the broad beans are starting to pod up. This means we will have to eat them again. Hopefully this will be the year I learn to love them. Why do I keep trying? I can still remember the taste from last year, and it wasn’t my most favourite thing to eat.
I have planted out my spinach, some lettuce, and some brassicas. Although I am completely perplexed with my brassica seedlings. I have no idea what I was thinking when I sowed the seeds. I have what seems like a million flower sprouts, which are delicious and in make a great replacement for Brussels sprouts which never form cute mini cabbage balls in my garden because it is too warm. But I only really need one of them in my garden considering how well they did last season and how often we actually eat them. Then I have all these seedlings labelled Sugarloaf cabbage – but they’re clearly not. I can tell because they are purple. This could be a number of things – more flower sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli or red cabbage. But I can’t be sure which. They’re definitely not Sugarloaf cabbage. That is green. I may give them away as a ‘surprise brassica’ because I like to know what I’m growing.
And speaking of broccoli – where are they? I’m sure I sowed some. But for the life of me I can’t find them. How can I not have broccoli? I think I may need to pop in a few more seeds of several varieties of brassica to fill my bed. So far only a flower sprout, kale and purple kohlrabi have made it in there and there is room for plenty more.
Now the key to planting out brassicas is to treat them mean. They like it like that. You need to do something that I would never do to any other plants except brassicas. Most plants need fluffy soil. But Brassicas like it firm so I do ‘the gardeners shuffle’ and tread on the soil – not until it is compacted and impossible to poke a finger into, but so it’s firm.
Then I dig a hole slightly bigger than the root ball and fill it with water and let it drain away. I do this several times. This is called ‘puddling’ and also gives them a good start because if brassicas are allowed to dry out then there is a high chance they will bolt straight to seed without doing what they are supposed to do, namely give something to eat! Then I plant the seedlings in the hole and firm the soil around them.
It does feel so good to have the garden take shape. It won’t be long before it is all go and my basket will be overflowing with the harvest.
Come again soon – if I’m not digging, then I’ll be weeding.
Sarah the Gardener : o )